Never Again!

We are learning new and even more disturbing details about the storming of the nation’s Capitol by Trump supporters, right-wing extremists, and QAnon conspirators (overlapping groups, to be sure) last Wednesday. The revelation of additional information indicates how close the United States came to anarchy and/or the overthrow of our democracy. The information reinforces the determination that such events — the election of an unfit, amoral president, the overthrow of truth, and an insurrection— never happen again. 

Representative Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican

Michigan Representative Peter Meijer said a fellow Republican in the House voted against supporting the results of November’s election even though the member knew the election was free and fair. Meijer said his colleague voted against certification out of concern for the safety of the member’s family. In an opinion piece in The Detroit News, Meijer wrote, “My colleague told me… voting to certify was a constitutional duty” that this member shunned out of fear. “An angry mob succeeded in threatening at least one member of Congress from performing what that member understood was a constitutional responsibility,” Meijer concluded. Meijer added that worse were the members who “doubled down, repeating lies of a stolen election” and voted not to certify after “a dead woman’s blood dried mere feet from our chamber.” 

Think about how scary Meijer’s revelation is. His information means that the machinations of President Donald Trump, the sinister ploy of Republican senators such as Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, and the drumbeat of deliberate misinformation by right-wing media, which all contributed to riling and provoking Trump’s base, at a minimum, succeeded in intimidating at least one member of Congress. It means that one member — afraid for his or her family — was cowed by vicious thugs into voting against the truth and the elected representative’s conscience.

The House debating objections to certifying the electors from Arizona, January 6, 2021

More than 100 Republicans in the House voted against accepting the results of the election. They were joined in their traitorous votes by eight senators who supported one or more of the challenges to electors. These Republicans are guilty of an attempt to overthrow the Constitution. I do not know how many of them are so dumb as to believe the nonsense Trump and his cohorts spewed or how many made a cynical calculation that voting against the truth was good for their presidential ambitions or how many feared being “primaried” by someone nuttier than they. It makes no difference. There must be a reckoning for all of them.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution says, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress… [who] shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against… the United States.” The amendment was one of the three Reconstruction amendments enacted to preserve the gains of the Union victory in the Civil War. It is relevant in this case. Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that Democrats are considering invoking the amendment to expel Republican lawmakers who supported overturning the results of the November election and encouraged the insurrection. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are discussing the relevance of the Fourteenth Amendment following last week’s riot.

Evicting 120 or so Republicans from Congress is not likely. But, perhaps the willingness of Democrats to ponder the Fourteenth Amendment’s relevance indicates an eagerness among loyal Americans to impose some form of punishment on disloyal members of Congress. Perhaps, censure is in order. In any event, those Republicans who voted against truth and law forever will be remembered for their crimes.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican

The other disturbing piece of news from this weekend confirms what was suspected all along. According to Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Trump “was delighted” while watching the televised events unfolding Wednesday at the Capitol. Sasse told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that “senior White House officials” conveyed to the Republican senator that “Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was” by a mob storming the Capitol. 

Trump was “delighted” while millions of Americans were appalled. Trump’s delight suggests that Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, was being naive when he said Sunday, “Now, my personal view is that the president touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again.” Blunt’s assessment echoes Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins’ justification for voting against convicting Trump during his Senate trial for attempted extortion of Ukraine on the grounds that the president learned “a pretty big lesson” and would not engage in future illegalities. Yes, Trump learned something. He learned he can get away with just about anything. 

President Donald Trump addressing supporters on the Ellipse, January 6, 2021

What Trump never learns is the right lesson. Everyone knows that, or should. It is abundantly obvious. President Trump is an amoral man whose narcissism insures that he looks out only for himself. He cares nothing for his followers or his loyal sycophants. On the issue of Trump loyalty, Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe told Tulsa World that Vice President Mike Pence was “angry” because the president was attacking Pence for the vice president’s refusal to act illegally and overturn the Electoral College returns. Inhofe said, “I had a long conversation with [Pence]. He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for [Trump].’” As for Trump’s disdain for his followers, reflect for a moment on his remarks on the Ellipse to the crowd before it headed to the Capitol and mayhem. After repeating his baseless claims of election fraud, the president egged on his supporters, urging them to “walk down to the Capitol… and I’ll be there with you.” Well, perhaps he meant in spirit, because Trump apparently watched the insurrection on television. Granted the Secret Service would not allow the president to walk in such a crowd, but, let us be honest, this president would not want to be bothered. 

A member of Congress scared by a president “delighted” to lead an insurrection against the government he heads must never happen again! The way to guarantee a return to sanity is to punish the truth deniers and the inciters. Trump and all the others who incited the storming of the Capitol must be held to account: Trump via impeachment and conviction; his abettors by the full weight of the legal system; and members of Congress by expulsion and/or censure.

We are learning just how fragile our constitutional framework is and how easy it is to circumvent truth and the law. We must punish the guilty to guarantee that such recklessness as we witnessed last week never occurs again.

Posted January 12, 2021

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